The Bible – Eureka Three Decades Later

The Bible – Eureka Three Decades Later

One sonic style that took shape and eventually flourished during the flamboyant 1980s is known now as Sophistipop – best described as “slow, soft, and melodic music with New Wave sensibilities and Smooth Jazz undertones.” Some of the significant ’80s-forming bands much of whose music may fall under the genre include Fra Lippo Lippi (“Light and Shade”), Johnny Hates Jazz (“Turn Back the Clock”), Breathe (“Hands to Heaven”), PM (“Piece of Paradise”), and the once-adored but half-remembered The Bible.

Formed in 1985, in Cambridge, England, by the duo Boo Hewerdine (vocals, guitar) and Tony Shepherd (keyboards, drums), The Bible recorded their debut, Walking the Ghost Back Home, with the assistance of Clive Lawson on bass, Kevin Flanagan on saxophone, and Dave Larcombe of Roaring Boys on drums. Released in 1986, the album produced the minor hit singles “Graceland” and “Mahalia.”

By the time they started to work on their followup, The Bible grew into a revolving cast of members – Hewerdine, Shepherd, Flanagan, and Larcombe with new members and session players Neill MacColl (lead guitar), Calum MacColl (bass), Greg Harewood (bass), Danny Thompson (bass), John Huckridge (trumpet), and Martin Green (saxophone). Their collaborative sessions resulted in the band’s second full-length, Eureka.

Released in January 1988, Eureka, however, was not a commercial success. It peaked at only number 71 on the U.K. Albums Chart. Nevertheless, time has proven that chart performance does not really say a thing about the actual quality of the music that most albums contain. Frequently, releases just get sidetracked or are not given the chance to shine, because they often get overshadowed by the “new darlings in town.” Upon inspection, one will realize that there are gems in such ignored works just waiting to be mined. The Bible’s second and last proper album was one of such casualties.

Eureka opened with the refreshingly upbeat, sunshine-summoning, smile-pulling “Skywriting.” This was followed by one of the album’s finest moment – the lyrically hopeful but melodically melancholic “Honey Be Good,” which could transmit pulses of nostalgia to the heart of any ’80s New Wave aficionada. The vibes picked up pace again with the piano-adorned and guitar- jangly mid-tempo “Skeleton Crew,” joining the league of similarly styled songs such as “All I Need Is a Miracle” by Mike + the Mechanics, “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister, “That’s When I Think of You” by 1927, and “Bathed in the Afterglow” by 16 Tambourines.

The Bible then turned a bit jazzier and cozier with “November Brides,” while the ensuing acoustic-oriented “Cigarette Girls” was a further trek down the folky and rustic countryside. Hewerdine’s soft, velvety voice then swung gracefully with “White Feathers,” complemented by crisp jangles of guitars. A perfect mid-song highlight came next in the form of “Crystal Palace” – the album’s cheery carrier single. Another breezy track, “Wishing Game” returned the listener to the overall feel-good mood of the album.

Hewerdine and his classy combo then took the listener to a quiet, ambient corner of “Red Hollywood,” complete with a standup bass, jazzy guitars, and a horn section. “Tiny Lights” followed in the same loungy atmosphere then built up into a slightly syncopated rhythm. “Blue Shoes Stepping” then walked and marched proudly with its piano flourishes and head-swaying beat and other catchy melodies, culminating in a Light Jazz jam. Finally, The Bible gave Eureka a proper, smokin’ Swing/Jazz closer – “Up in Smoke.”

Eureka is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Listen to it again; and this time, fairly and with objectivity. Behold its beauty and true worth. Some of its tracks are among the finest ballads in the Sophistipop world. Give this half-forgotten gem the well-deserved appreciation that once eluded it. Rediscover the spark and sheen that time forgot and many harsh critics in the past had dismissed a lot.

Purchase Eureka:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

  • Cool Brew
    Posted at 05:18h, 17 July Reply

    Honey, Be Good is up there in my list of all- time fave 80’s songs. Has it been that long? Yesterday, I was jamming with my buddies and then I woke up today as a middle aged guy who pines for the girl he lost every time Honey, Be Good is played.

    Great writing! Cheers

  • Alfie Vera Mella
    Posted at 18:10h, 17 July Reply

    Cool Brew,
    Thank you very much for the inspiring and nostalgic words.

    Yes, it has been more than 30 years! Even I could momentarily look back to the 1980s as if it was only a week ago. Oh, so many great memories. The Bible’s music will always be a part of that wonderful soundtrack.

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